The 44-year-old Austin rocker has fronted many bands, but it was on the success of his 2000 solo album, Lonelyland, that he rose to national fame. His latest CD, Lovely Creatures (Kirtland), was just released.
You’re the son of an opera singer. Yes, but my dad’s now retired. He was in a band—he actually taught me how to play guitar—but then he fell in love with opera and moved us to Germany when I was two. I spent twenty years in Munich, though we moved to El Paso for a couple years so that my dad could study with a voice teacher.
It must have been interesting to go from Munich to El Paso. It was terrifying. But I later ended up at UT—El Paso and had a blast. I was trying to get into an art school in California and didn’t. Unbeknownst to me, my mom, to get me out of the house, had applied for me to go to UTEP. So it’s where I ended up, and it’s where I heard about Austin.
You played in a series of bands—Joe Rockhead, Ugly Americans—and formed one that is ongoing, the Scabs. How did you arrive at a solo career? The Scabs started in ’95, which is the year I got sober. I had just made a record with Ugly Americans. I got sober, and it was like when you wake up and go, “Ooh, I can’t believe I went home with that girl.” It wasn’t that the band wasn’t good; it just wasn’t what I wanted to do creatively. So I ended up forming the Scabs. We were about juxtaposing musical styles and trying to be as exciting as possible. But then we found that the more dance music we played, the more hot women would come